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PGB1
May 1st, 2012, 08:30 AM
Hi Everyone!
I'm new here, so I hope I am posting in the correct place. Also, I hope this did not post twice. I had an error message when I first tried. I apologize if it did.
I got out my older computer the other day to access a file on a 5-1/4" floppy. It occurred to me that I can not remember much about this machine, not even what it is properly called. (I think it is XT 8088??

The motherboard says "8MHX Turbo Board". It has 8 expansion slots. One has the disk drive controller which had serial & parallel ports. One slot has a card with the EGA output, plus two RCA jacks (I don;t know what these are for- Sound??). The slots are about 3-1/4" long. I don;t remember if they are called PCI or ISA or something different. It has two 5-1/4" floppy drives.

When I boot, the screen says "Phoenix ROM BIOS 2.27" and Copyright 1984, 1985, 1986. It also says Yangtech.
That's about all I know. I'd certainly like to re-learn about this machine.

Also, if you don't mind, I've some related questions about it:
Is it, indeed, an XT & an 8088?
How do I (If possible) access the BOIS? I couldn't figure out any particular key-combination.
What keyboard does it need? It is 5-Pin round, but my other 5-pin doesn't work. (The original has some non-working keys)
How do I turn Turbo on? There is no button other than a Reset button.
Lastly, where does the wire from the Turbo light plug nto? It's laying next to a pin-up on the M'board marked JP5, but I'm scared to plug it in without advice.

I'll try (key word = Try) to upload some photos of the motherboard in the hope it is helpful in identifying this machine.

Thank You all very much for any information you care to lend!
Paul

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2012, 08:39 AM
It looks more like a generic (Taiwanese) 8088 clone board.

One way to get an inkling of what you've got is to match up the motherboard with the pictures shown on TH99 (http://www.artofhacking.com/th99/).

At first blush, it looks as if you've got a Turbo 640 (http://www.artofhacking.com/th99/m/U-Z/30477.htm), but I can't really tell for certain from your photos.

krebizfan
May 1st, 2012, 08:51 AM
Generally speaking the Phoenix BIOS was entered by either pressing the "DEL" key or the "F1" key at startup though some manufacturers customised for other values.

The keyboard changed between the XT and the AT though both use the same connector. Some older keyboards have a switch that can place it into either XT or AT mode. If you are lucky enough to have one, make sure the switches are set to XT mode.

Turbo mode is likely software configurable in the BIOS. CTRL-Shift-Minus and CTRL-Shift-Plus were common key combinations to change the speed. Hope you have the manual in case it is something different. Trying to press every possible multiple key combination could take days.

Stone
May 1st, 2012, 09:18 AM
My 286-12 with a WD motherboard and a Phoenix BIOS is accessed via... CTRL-ALT-ESC. Also, it can be accessed at anytime, not just startup.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2012, 09:36 AM
My 286-12 with a WD motherboard and a Phoenix BIOS is accessed via... CTRL-ALT-ESC. Also, it can be accessed at anytime, not just startup.

Stone, this is an 8088! I think the OP was asking about manipulating turbo mode, since there's no setup in a beast like this.

Stone
May 1st, 2012, 09:46 AM
Oops, ya' got me. I'm actually Rick Perry using Stone's account. :-)

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2012, 09:53 AM
Oops, ya' got me. I'm actually Rick Perry using Stone's account. :-)

http://www.chimpout.com/forum/images/smilies/rofllg.gif

PGB1
May 2nd, 2012, 05:08 AM
Thank You All Very Much for your help & ideas.

I messed around with every key combination I could think of to access the BOIS. I did a random MetaCrawler search for "BOIS Access" & tried each of the 6 million combinations shown. So far, no luck. I'll get there! (Rainy day project??) The only real reason I want to get in is to try to connect an old 40mb hard drive I have. If for nothing else, to learn how. (Assuming that's even possible with my hardware & I find a proper ribbon cable. Bet I post another question soon when I get confused.)

Thanks Krebizfan for the Turbo key combination. I think it is correct for mine, although I have no confirmation other than a small up-arrow after the a:\ prompt when I enter CTL-Shift-Plus (The Turbo LED wire is un-hooked & I haven't figured out where it goes yet.)

Thank You Chuck (G) for the link to the hardware pages. The closest ones to my motherboard, although not quite matching, are the Turbo 640 you mentioned & the AL-6408. I'll try to figure out how to contact the person(s) who made the collection to see if they want me to send photos so they can add mine to their list- if they are interested in having another in the "Unknown" list.

That's an amazing site. I spent quite a while ducking work (err... I mean "studying") hardware. I could spend days there!

Again, thank you all for your help. I certainly appreciate the time you took to answer. I forgot how much I always liked using DOS & how quickly the commands & syntax parameters are coming back to me. Now, to re-learn the hardware!

Paul

SpidersWeb
May 2nd, 2012, 05:23 AM
While I do not know this machine specifically, generally there will not be a BIOS setup, it's unlikely to even have a battery. That didn't really arrive until the 286 generation where it was, more often than not, a program you ran from disk. Normally 8088 machines are configured using switches on the motherboard. I can see yours in your photo.

PC/XT's generally don't support hard drives on their own either unfortunately - you'll need an 8bit hard drive controller with a ROM chip installed. The software on the ROM allows the old XT to use and boot from the drive.

If your 40Mb drive is a normal IDE drive, the only real option is to find/purchase/build an XTIDE card.
If it's an MFM drive, you'll need the 34pin and 20pin cables, plus a controller with ROM that supports your drive size.
Usually an XT machine would be found with a 10Mb or 20Mb MFM hard drive and an 8bit controller with ROM - configured to suit.

Not exactly a detailed explination, but hope it helps nonetheless :)

Stone
May 2nd, 2012, 06:02 AM
OK, so tell us what is generating the ..."Phoenix ROM BIOS 2.27"... message?

PGB1
May 2nd, 2012, 06:24 AM
The motherboard mystery is solved... Sort of
I actually found the file for the computer from when I bought it. I thought it was destroyed with some other paperwork that met their tragic demise several years ago.

It has two manuals for the motherboard, along with some pencil notes. One manual is for the Turbo 640 that Chuck (G) suggested & the other is for the AL-6408. My pencil notes say the 640 is "Not exactly what is installed. Switch Locations are different. Features are the same" The CAD in the AL-6408 manual is nearly identical to the layout of the motherboard I have. So, between the two of them, I think I'm good to go.

The turbo did turn out to be the combination Krebizfan suggested. One of the manuals showed me where to hook up the LED. Once I did, the key combination not only illuminated the indicator, the cursor turned into a big block, showing Trubo Mode.

If any of you want, I will be more than happy to scan these manuals as pdf & send the information. The I/O channel descriptions are there, as are switch settings. The manual for the 640 has 7 pages of schematics. If any of this would be helpful to the members, just let me know & I'll scan away!

I also have the user's manual for the Courrier 6 Hexa I/O Card, if any of you want a copy.

Thank you SpidersWeb for the information. You were dead-on about the dip switches. The manuals don't speak of BIOS settings, but what I normally see in a BOIS are covered by the switches (well, some of them anyway). Mine does have a battery. It's kind of goofy- There's no holder on the board. there are wires leading to a free-floating battery. It's dead,but the system retained the time/date settings while unplugged. Huh??

Your information about the hard drive certainly saved me a bunch of time in failed attempts to find a ribbon & connecting this way & that way!
(Like I did with a 3 1/2" floppy. It ended up connected way differently than I expected- Before the twist made it work.)
I'm not sure when I'll pursue the hard disk installation. It would be a fun challenge to learn & build a controller.

Once Again,
Thank you for taking the time to reply. Let me know if the manuals are useful to any of you.
Paul

PGB1
May 2nd, 2012, 06:46 AM
Hi
I made a mistake about the battery. As Krebizfan stated, there is no battery on the motherboard. It is attached to the controller card ina home-made looking fashion. That's where the clock data is stored.
I also forgot to mention, if anyone needs them, I have a manual for a Paradise "Basic" EGA card & one for my Thompson 4460D monitor.
Paul

SpidersWeb
May 2nd, 2012, 11:43 AM
OK, so tell us what is generating the ..."Phoenix ROM BIOS 2.27"... message?

If you're talking to me, I said "BIOS setup" - being the common term for the configuration utillity which is what the OP was looking for.
I wasn't implying there was no BIOS.

Stone
May 2nd, 2012, 12:12 PM
But since it's an XT and there is no BIOS message on bootup... where's it coming from? I get a Video BIOS message on my XT but no system BIOS message. If I don't have a boot device it boots to basic and I get that BIOS message. But on a normal boot... no BIOS message.

SpidersWeb
May 2nd, 2012, 12:20 PM
IBM PC XT doesn't, but the clones with Pheonix ROMs have that message.

Stone
May 2nd, 2012, 12:25 PM
OK, mine's an IBM.

PGB1
May 2nd, 2012, 12:25 PM
I certainly don't have expertise, but could the BIOS confusion be that there is, indeed, a BOIS being loaded, but since it is prefaced by "ROM", it is read-only, thus no user access?

Kind of like- Yeah, the BOIS is here, but you can't get at it?

Stone
May 2nd, 2012, 12:36 PM
I think all BIOSes are ROMs. That means you can't write to it.

MikeS
May 2nd, 2012, 01:23 PM
I certainly don't have expertise, but could the BIOS confusion be that there is, indeed, a BOIS being loaded, but since it is prefaced by "ROM", it is read-only, thus no user access?

Kind of like- Yeah, the BOIS is here, but you can't get at it?There certainly does seem to be some confusion, aside from the BIOS/BOIS and Phoenix/Pheonix dyslexia ;-)

I think you're confusing the BIOS (which is read-only memory chip, except for flash updates) with the system configuration, which is held in DIP switches in PCs and XTs and battery-backed CMOS RAM in later models.

The BIOS does not "get loaded"; if anything gets loaded then it's the BIOS that does the loading. The main function of the BIOS is to properly initialize the various chips on the motherboard, present a standard way to talk to the peripherals like the display, printer, disk drive etc. regardless of what chips or logic that particular motherboard uses, and to try to load a "bootstrap" which will actually start up a useful operating system. On a PC/XT there is no user interaction with the BIOS at all, nor is there any CMOS memory.

As PCs became more complicated and system configuration involved more options than just display type, FDDs, memory size and Copro, the various option flags were stored in a battery-backed memory chip (which normally also included a real-time clock) instead of switch settings. Note that this has nothing to do with the BIOS; making changes to the configuration initially required running a program from disk.

Eventually the configuration program was incorporated into the BIOS, so it now serves two distinct functions: the original common interface to the various chips and functions, and a program to allow changing the various configuration options in CMOS RAM.

PGB1
May 2nd, 2012, 02:16 PM
Thank you for the explanation, MikeS and everyone who helped me with this fun adventure!

It's always a good day when I learn something new! (Is the proper phrase "Learn New-Old stuff"?)

Let me ask, if you all don't mind, if I understand this correctly-

Assuming a newer computer-
When someone says they are configuring their BIOS, for instance to change the boot order, they are not really working in the BIOS at all. The user's changes are stored in the battery protected configuration memory. Is that called CMOS?

The BOIS is helping us do the changes & is responsible for telling the processor how to handle any information the user & the hardware sent to the processor? Like an interpreter?

Part Two- This means the battery on my controller card is only for the luxury of a clock memory to stamp files & doesn't protect any hardware settings, as there is no writable memory storing anything on this 8088 after I power it off (outside the time-date)?
The dip switches & jumpers take care of all the hardware, right?

Did I get it or did I mess it all up (again)?

Thanks!
Paul

PS: Please pardon the BOIS/BIOS & the 600 other mis-types I'm sure are in my posts that I don't see.
In real life I am dyslexic. Sometimes I type something that, to me, looks great. The next day it looks like I fell asleep on the keyboard. It's hilarious. (I'm easily entertained.)
You should see my penmanship! Sister Mary Whapyourknuckles used to get so mad at the backwards circle writing stuff. Personally, I thought it was artistic.

MikeS
May 2nd, 2012, 04:02 PM
...Did I get it or did I mess it all up (again)?I'd say you got it pretty well exactly right!

A lot of the terms in what you'd think would be a precise and logical field are ambiguous or even misleading; for example CMOS stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors, an entire family of ICs and other semiconductors characterized by its extremely low power requirements (and thus ideal for battery powered uses), but in the PC world it refers to the chip holding the system's configuration (or the configuration itself); mind you, in even newer systems that info is actually stored in flash RAM, but of course it's still referred to as 'the CMOS'. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonvolatile_BIOS_memory
When 'configuring a BIOS' you are using a program in the BIOS ROM to change the system configuration in the Non-volatile RAM that the BIOS uses to do its thing. When the OS sends a command to the BIOS (e.g. read a disk sector on drive 0), the BIOS looks into the configuration RAM (or the PC/XT dip switches) to see what type of disk that is (or if it even exists) and handles the request accordingly.
No offence intended by the dyslexia remark; my typing seems to be getting more and more dyslexic as I get older, but fortunately I can still catch most of it when I re-read what I typed... yeah, pretty funny sometimes ;-)

Stone
May 2nd, 2012, 04:10 PM
..... my typing seems to be getting more and more dyslexic as I get older, but fortunately I can still catch most of it when I re-read what I typed... That's because you're still young. In a few more years your eyes will get bad enough that the dyslexia will win out. :-)

Chuck(G)
May 2nd, 2012, 04:31 PM
That's because you're still young. In a few more years your eyes will get bad enough that the dyslexia will win out. :-)

...and then your memory begins failing. I've gotten strange looks from people when I've been seen walking the dogs wearing a binocular loupe on my head...

PGB1
May 2nd, 2012, 06:44 PM
Thanks MikeS for the details & link. Good article.
No worries about the D comment. I do it, too. As a matter of fact, I wrote a book about living with Dyslexia, but no one could figure out how to read it.
I find it more of an amusement than a problem- a distraction at worst. My wife gets great laughs daily about what new goofiness comes out of my mouth when the words go 'Alphabet Soup' on me. Never boring around here. Life's good!

As far as walking the dog with the Optivisor on, Chuck(G)-
Honest to goodness, I noticed mine on my head in the grocery store the other day. Crazy coincidence. Last week, I got in the shower dressed. Instead of being attributable to age sneaking up on me, I prefer to think of it as an eccentricity of genius. That's my excuse & I'm sticking to it!

Thanks again everyone for the information about this computer. It is the longest lasting computer I've owned. I was also surprised that almost all of the hundred or so 5-1/4's I accessed still worked fine. Maybe three had problems. I've been having a great time exploring it again.

Paul